Carol Regan SUSC writes about her experience at a panel on Hate Speech and Genocide –

“…because language is a tool we all use in our daily lives and ministry. Panelists from Africa, Europe, and the Americas (diplomats, academics, a psychologist, and a journalist) reflected on the tension that exists between free speech, censorship, common sense, and hate speech. Although nations have no obligation to protect their citizens from offense (consequently, blasphemy is not usually a crime), they are obliged to protect from harm.  Thus free speech is not absolute:  there is no ‘right,’ for example, to advertise for child pornography.”

“Hate speech objectifies its subjects, often describing them as not human. I was amazed to learn that calling the target group ‘rats’ or ‘cockroaches’ has occurred since the era of the Greek city states!  What can we do about hate speech? The speaker can be silenced through political sanctions, but this should be rare.  It is far better to counter hate speech / inflammatory writing and work against racism / xenophobia by telling a different story. Speech is the essential tool for creating any change. Since the panel discussion, I have heard in other gatherings that it is better to talk of people in poverty than of poor people, of irregular migration than of illegal immigrants. This makes perfect sense to me, though I needed to be made aware of it; poor and illegal are words that make people into others who are different.  I wonder; what else in my (our) speech needs attention?”